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Tattoo Healing Timeline

How Long Does a Tattoo Take to Heal?

It can take anywhere from two to four weeks for your tattoo to heal depending on the size and location of the tattoo. Some people also heal faster or slower depending on their skin. If this is your first tattoo, here’s a look at what you can expect during the healing process.

Day 1 (after bandage removal)

After the bandage comes off for the first time, you may notice fluid oozing from the tattoo. This is just plasma and some extra ink. It’s completely normal and nothing to worry about. Clean and dry as directed above. The tattoo may also feel sore and slightly warm to the touch.

Days 2 to 3

Over the next couple of days, you may notice that your tattoo looks dull and cloudy. No need to panic or start thinking about a touch-up. This happens as your skin heals and new skin starts to form. Excess ink and plasma may still ooze from your skin during this time.

Days 4 to 6

The redness should start to fade, and light new skin will be noticeable over the tattoo. If scabs form, Don’t pick at the scabs, as this can cause scarring and ruin your tattoo before you’ve even had a chance to see it fully healed.

Days 7 to 14

Between seven days and two weeks after your tattoo, any scabbing that has occurred will have hardened and will begin to flake off. DON’T PICK AT THEM OR TRY TO PULL THEM OFF. Your tattoo may feel very itchy during this time. Use a moisturizer to relieve the itch. If the tattoo is still red and swollen at this point, go back to your artist or see a doctor as you may have an irritation or infection.

Tattoo Care After 2 Weeks – Days 15 to 30

This is the last stage of the healing process after getting a tattoo. Most, if not all of the scabs, will have fallen off. If your tattoo looks dry and dull, continue to moisturize to rehydrate the skin. It may take another month or two for the lower layers of skin to completely heal, at which point the tattoo should look as bright and vivid as you expected, and as the artist intended.